Teenage Punk Rockers
This site explores the punk culture as it was in 1977 England. We were teenage punk rockers that wrote a fanzine and formed a garage band.
Monday, December 8, 2008
above; Original London Punks Shag Nasty
Shag Nasty got an early start on the anarchy scene with their first shows at the now legendary "Man in the Moon" pub venue on Chelsea's Kings Road during 1976. Band members Gary Sharp and Riff Starr were friends with Joe Strummer, who gave them £500 from the Clash's advance from CBS Records to get Shag Nasty started. The band toured mostly around London, but on Sunday 17th July 1977 they arrived in Birmingham to play the "Britain's Burning" outdoor punk concert. Shag Nasty were headlined alongside the Clash, the Saints, Subway Sect, Cherry Vanilla and others, before the gig was canceled by the local council. The ensuing event was a venue switch and an enthusiastic gig at Barbarella's night club.
In this Bombsite Zine 2008 exclusive, Shag Nasty guitarist Riff Starr, and bass player Straka , discuss how the band were associated with the early London punk core. Including, how original drummer Paul 'B. P.' Hurding moved on to join X-Ray Spex, and their close ties to "The Stables" in Camden town.
Shag Nasty released one single during 1977. The raw, but energetic sound of "Looking for Love" should be part of any 77 punk enthusiasts collection.
During 2008 Shag Nasty regrouped to tour Britain and have stepped back in the studio to put final touches on some recently discovered original recordings.
The new band line up is
Riff Starr (Original Band Member) on Guitar and BV
Nick Aloha Starr (Original Band Member) on Drums
Bow Starr (New Band Member) on Lead Vocals
Straka Starr (New Band Member) on Bass Guitar and BV
Martin -Some of your first gigs were down at the "Man in the Moon" on the Kings Road. Many punks from other parts of the UK heard the calling and would make there way down to London during the early scene, even before we had a name for what was going on. Bombsite 2008 wrote about a weekend where the Unwanted were playing and Joe Strummer, Mick and Paul arrived on Motorcycles to hang out at the joint. Can you recall an interesting incident or something that happened at the Man in the Moon that describes the period?
Riff -It wasn't unusual for Joe and the rest of the Clash to go down to "The Man in the Moon". It was a regular place for most punks in the London scene, especially on the Sunday evenings, when the X-Ray Spex “Punk Promotions” were happening. Otherwise, midweek everyone including those who were known as the poser punks would go down to The Roxy. The Roxy was probably the best known and most popular of the London punk venues. A real happening place to go to. For those of you who don’t know, the “Poser punks” were those who had loads of cash, bought themselves into the scene, and had the latest top designer £100.00 bondage trousers and the like. We all know one don't we? They were quite different from the average Joe, who would sort out their own gear, instinctive and more expressive.
When Joe Strummer would go down the "Man in the Moon", he would usually arrive pillion on the back of Sebastian Conran’s motorcycle. For those of you who don’t know Sebastian, he had a beautiful Gold Suzuki 750 – four. It was a great bike. Sebastian was a great friend of Joe's in the early days. They drifted apart later, but I think that was because The Clash camp forced him out somehow. Although, I don’t know much about it. They used to hang about together a lot, and were really close, I thought. Sebastian was very much involved with the “Clash factory”, helping out with all things Clash.
The Clash had a lot of good people around them. Helping with clothes design, music sleeve art etc. I remember, the band were very focused on what they wanted to say, and they had the right people, committed people helping them achieve it. Bernie Rhodes was big on The Clash, I mean B.I.G, Big.
Going back to the "Man in the Moon", I recall one occasion at the venue when we played with X Ray Spex. We borrowed some of their gear to play that night. I must say, we got a little carried away with our heads and the moment. We ended up smashing or damaging some of their gear and Poly went nuts. I doubt that she has had many good word to say about us. She didn’t back then, and probably still doesn’t today. After all these years, sorry Poly!! The trouble was the music and the scene could become quite intense, it was part of the moment and movement I guess.
The "Man in the Moon" had a great reputation, and many bands can now be linked back to it. It sounds like it was some great big punk venue! But it was really quite small. I recall you could only get about 50 or so people in there at any one time. It was downstairs in the basement area.
The Spex would always arrange the gigs there, and they would headline there most weeks. I think each Sunday, with other bands supporting them, Poly was giving them a bit of a break. Like us - Shag Nasty, Adam and the Ants, Menace etc. A lot of the punk crowd were made up of friends of the bands. Many of the punters were on the band guest lists in one way or another. I doubt anyone made anything on it, but it wasn’t about making money from what I could see. It was about the scene and the message. It was really cool, very intimate. I never saw any trouble inside, but outside was a very different story. There was always violence. It would get you down! It was like all punks were enemy number one. There was always loads of violence on the street there locally. The Teds, the Teds hated the punks so much! You would always get large groups of Teds, hanging out. Looking for punks to kick up in the air. They would single you out, and you had to be quick on your toes, It wasn’t fun.
I remember one evening after playing there, leaving with my brother in law Steve (at the time), carrying my guitar case. As we were walking towards the train station I got abuse from a small group of Teds. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and I had to have a dig back. Guess what? It wasn’t before long we were getting chased down the road by a multitude and we were clearly heading for a kicking. We got away. It is surprising how fast you can run when you need to. We both escaped a good kicking that night.
The only Northerners I can remember at the "Man in the Moon" were the guys from Screwdriver. I can’t remember them playing there. They might have done, but I can remember them hanging out there a few times. London was a great place, still is of course. But at that time it was dangerous being a punk. People hated punks, especially Teds. I remember it became a regular thing that Teds from as far away as France would come over for the weekends just to kick punks up in the air. That wasn’t much fun.
Martin - Do you remember The Clash, The Pistols or others as regulars at the Man in the Moon?
Riff - I can’t recall the Pistols ever being down at the Man in the Moon so to speak. I do remember Sid Vicious, but I think that was before he joined them, I’m not sure. They were always down the Roxy. The Roxy was the place to hang out, the place to be. I only ever remember them being there. I remember one night, I don’t know how it happened, but had words or something with Johnny Rotten. It ended up with someone from “their click” coming over to sort me out, or something? Things didn’t work out with Johnny’s plan though, and he got pissed off, as the guy he sent over was an old school friend of mine (Barry Jones), We used to live in the same area of London, and we ended up just chatting, drinking and having a laugh about it.
I remember The Clash at the "Man in the Moon" Joe was there more than the others. Regulars also included Adam and the Ants, Suzy of the Banshees and the guys from Swank. They were a good band, the singer is now actor Gary Olsen, great guys. It was a great scene, intimate and mostly good natured, that is inside?!
above; Shag Nasty's 1977 Classic Punk Single
Martin - During 1976 The Kings Road was the epicenter for the punk scene in the UK. There was something in the air that summer. What do you remember as an incident, gig or political that would ignite the UK punks that summer?
Riff - I don’t think there was a single unique event that caused the explosion in the true sense! It kind of crept up. Initially, there were only a handful of punks, and then you looked around and the numbers started to swell. The movement just got bigger and bigger and it was all about the music, the message, the rebellion, and later fashion and image took over. The explosion, I suppose you can call it that, was when the fashion shops took hold of it. People eventually just got a taste for it and this caused the movement to gather a little speed. Vivian Westwood’s designs really captured the mood and image of the punk scene, and everyone just copied what she was putting together. That’s how I saw it anyway.
Martin - You mention that Joe Strummer lent the band cash to get things off the ground for Shag Nasty. Did you ever pay the money back?
Riff - Well, when we say loan. We actually mean it was more of a bung of some cash to some friends, it was a gift. Joe gave us the money, that is Gary and I. Tosh and Paul joined as a consequence of what came next. You see Gary (Shag Nasty singer) was a great friend of Joe's. Gary and Joe worked together in a kitchen in some hotel. This is before the The Clash days when Joe was in the 101’ers. They were really quiet close. We hung out together and we saw the 101’ers loads of times. We had the same desires when the punk scene erupted. We put Shag Nasty together on the back of the £500.00 Joe gave us from the CBS advance, when the Clash got signed, this was big money. The average weekly wage from what I remember then was probably only about £25.00. So this was heavy. I remember Gary and myself meeting Joe down at The Roxy when he gave us the money. Having a good drink together over it, celebrating if you like, on what musical venture we were about to embark upon. I remember getting an old Arbiter guitar, an Amp head, speaker and fuzz box. The money also meant we were ready to advertise for other members for the band. We put an advert in The Melody Maker. That was the best paper to put an advert in, so you got to the right people. Tosh (bass player) and Paul (Drums) answered to the add. Paul who was called Paul BP - Big Paul. Hurding left us and joined the X Ray Spex later on. When Tosh and Paul joined the band we actually had our auditions at the Clash camp in Camden, "The Stables” is where the Market is now.
All things “Clash” really came from The Stables. Songs, clothes, art work, everything, It was like Clash HQ. I remember Bernie didn’t really like us there. He didn’t like anyone there when the Clash were rehearsing, probably to keep the band focused on their material, I don’t know. Any how we rehearsed there as well, It was a great place. You actually felt part of something, the buzz. I remember Don Letts, Rodent and later Glen Matlock used to of course hang out there. When Glen split from the Pistols his new band the rich kids rehearsed there, like us.
Bernie was great with the Clash. He was a driving force with them. Even down to his car! He was 100% behind supporting them. I remember he had an old Renault. I can’t remember the model, but it had “the Clash” as the registration [license plate] number, It was CLA 5H, a really cool plate.
Getting back to the £500.00. I can’t remember paying it back in anyway. Or even being asked for any of it back. Joe was like that, It was a starter if you like for some friends. Joe was spirited that way. If it hadn’t been for Joe, “Shag Nasty” wouldn’t have happened and BP in turn probably wouldn’t have been the drummer in the Spex!
"Shag Nasty" had some great times and some not so. Like losing Paul (BP) Hurding to the X- Ray Spex. He was a great drummer and probably more of a musician than the rest of us. He also had more of a musical drive and you could see it. This is probably why Poly poached him from us. She knew he was good. They watched him grow and had a place that needed to be filled, and Paul was put into that place. It was the right place at the right time for him. Soon after Paul joined them they started recording, I think, and then they went on the USA tour. There was no hard feelings. Still none now.
Nick Shirley then joined the band and we carried on playing. Gigging mostly around east London and down on the west scene. Things were going ok. We started getting a good following, but because of differences between us at the time we drifted apart. Our last gig I think was headlining at Ronnie Scot’s. I can’t remember the date, it's a shame. We had I think great potential, but it didn’t work out.
Now we’re back and loving it. A bit older and more experienced, but we can see the same problems now as back then. They say nothing changes. Any how we’re here and we are gonna be around for a while!! Enjoying it.
above; London Punks Shag Nasty 2008
Martin - In the Joe Strummer movie "The Future is Unwritten" some old friends of Joe sat around a campfire and recall memories of this punk hero. Is there something that you recall about the man that you will remember forever?
Riff - The thing that really described Joe for me, and summed him up was passion, his passion for music. How he linked everyday life, not just here, but anywhere in the world to his music. The lyrics, the feel, the message. He was very passionate about music, as a means of being able to translate the message, any message through his music.
I remember he always wanted to own his own radio station. To play music and expose the tunes and artists he loved and moved him so. He understood the scene, and he wanted passionately to be part of it. He did, he moved from the 101’ers to the Clash as he saw what was happening. He was able to absorb what was happening around him and his London. The time, the politics, the unjust things that were also happening, and he saw its relevance. He acted like a punk activist. He saw the writing on the wall.
It said “The Clash” and he became a spokesperson for a whole generation.
Martin - Can you explain the reggae and or dub part of how punk music unfolded?
Riff - Some musical onlookers don’t understand, or see a natural link in genres. My view on this and why these genres merged is explained two fold.
Firstly - similarities can be seen when you look at the origin of both Punk and Reggae styles. Both styles of music really emerged from social depression, or environments or situations where people spoke out against their oppression, or what they felt they were experiencing, from their governments or governing bodies.
Secondly – By virtue of the above ideology, both musical styles have some common goals or a common bond. Bands or musicians that played either style found themselves playing alongside each other and sharing stages together.
Both styles, Reggae and Punk then cross pollinated over time, thus creating blends of both of these styles. They began to co exist, drawing each of the styles together and becoming on occasion even more experimental.
Martin - During 1977 Shag Nasty would start to see gigs where the they played alongside reggae bands.
Riff - Shag Nasty featured a couple of times on the bill of great Reggae artists such as Dillinger, Clint Eastwood and Burning Spear. I can’t remember the dates but recall each gig were within weeks of each other in the latter part of 1977. The first of the two gigs was at a venue in Brighton supporting Dillinger, together with Burning Spear and the second in London at The Rainbow Theatre again supporting Dillinger with Clint Eastwood. Both gigs were packed with both Reggae and Punk fans.
I recall in the early days Joe Strummer and Mick Jones of the Clash going out to Jamaica to soak up the Reggae musical scene for themselves; seeking to also experience life in Jamaica. No doubt looking for musical inspirations. I seem to recall the trip gave rise to inspiring the great Clash song “Safe European Home” on the “Give them enough rope” album. The Clash went on to mix and match or merge many other musical styles over the years within their music; but one thing in my view was consistent throughout was the influence of Reggae and or Reggae dub.
Martin - Did Shag Nasty get to play any punk venues in Manchester or Liverpool during 77? Was there a difference with the punks in the North of Britain?
Riff - The furthest North Shag Nasty played was Birmingham, on the Britain’s Burning Clash tour. It was difficult getting gigs outside the London scene, as everyone hated you. They didn’t want you there! Initially anyway. There was a good scene outside London and punk was quiet unified, but, It was more often than not local shows, for local punks in Punk satellite venues. Pushing their own messages. Doing their own scene. These satellite venues soon started to pop up everywhere, I guess through local persistence and passion. Punks were not going to go down without a fight. We seemed to play most of our gigs in London.
From what I remember the Punks scene was quite universal. I remember the scene was strong in a few places, Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield. And, the band and fan relationships were strong and unified. I think this was due to the fact that punk music was all about getting up there and doing it yourself. Anyone and everyone was encouraged to pick up a guitar and make good music. The music was no longer being dictated by the likes of the “Jimmy Page’s” and the “Rick Wakeman’s” of the world of music. The rules had changed. This is why I think real punk music is in the main basic, raw, intuitive, approachable musicians not aloof and self indulgent. Anyone should be able to play it.
Fans were bands and bands were fans. There wasn’t a divide between them. I think those punk musicians or bands that forgot this weren’t or aren’t real true punks. They were or are something really quite different. Make your own mind up on who these were or are. You don’t need some old punk like me to tell you.
Shag Nasty Myspace
Shag Nasty Web Site
2008 Distorded Magazine